WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (Aug. 12, 2013) from the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, California, featuring the go home show to the SummerSlam pay-per-view (PPV) this Sunday night in Los Angeles, California.
Click here for full results and the live blog from the show if you missed it. Let's get right to reactions. Remember, these were written as the show moved along with real time reactions to everything that occurred hour-by-hour.
- So whose fault was it that when the USA broadcast came on the air, Daniel Bryan was already on the ramp and his entrance was already well underway? It's a minor mess up, sure, but Bryan might be the only guy whose entrance theme induces a big reaction anymore. Sucks to have had to miss it over a production error. Plus, this came after the decision was made to ditch that intro they stole from TNA. I realize I'm pulling hairs but it seemed odd and the little things matter in pro wrestling, at least to me.
- I absolutely love the decision to have Brad Maddox go back to his roots as a referee for Bryan vs. Wade Barrett, which has turned into an honest to goodness feud inside a feud, and then having him go back to his roots even further and screw Bryan over with a fast count. The build to Bryan going after him for the screwjob was hot as hell, wasn't it? Thank you, Sacramento, for giving a shit when you were supposed to give a shit.
- That was a great bit of storytelling. We hate the man who screws our guy and want our guy to go after the man but if he does, as JBL so adeptly stated on commentary, he loses the title shot at SummerSlam we so badly want for him. So many layers, all of them ending with Bryan as the hero battling against those who go against him, and therefore us, the fans. Loved this.
- Call me crazy, but I no longer want Damien Sandow to cash in his Money in the Bank contract. His new briefcase is just too polished and professional.
- Hey, Cody Rhodes explained his reasoning for thwarting Sandow's attempted cash in on SmackDown last week! "He will not become world heavyweight champion before I do," Rhodes tells us. Okay, I'll buy into that. Hatred is blinding and what not. Also thought Sandow using handcuffs to keep his new briefcase safe was a nice touch because WWE all too often ignores little plot points like that.
- Despite the crowd, which was great, Sandow vs. Randy Orton was a surprisingly mediocre match. Their encounter on SmackDown a couple weeks back was far more entertaining and Rhodes trying to steal the briefcase again, despite it being locked up on the ring post and that leading to the finishing RKO was a bit lame.
- Considering the recent backstage heat on The Shield, that promo from Seth Rollins had so much more meaning. Or maybe it didn't and I just want it to, either way, it was great. So was Dean Ambrose saying there's no way he's losing the United States championship unless Andre the Giant's ghost shows up. That's without mentioning how great it is that Roman Reigns can say "nobody measures up" and based on how they've been booked, that's a factual statement. And considering who they've been matched up against since they came on the scene, that's more of a big deal than it's being played up as. Good set up for two more matches at SummerSlam, too, though that has to mean someone's match is getting its time cut, right?
- We can all agree CM Punk is one of the best promos in the business today but can we all also agree that doesn't really include the straight up interview setting? You give him a microphone and a hot topic, stand him alone in the ring, and let him drop bombs, that's one thing, you put him in a locker room, put Josh Matthews in his face with a microphone and a dumb question and that's entirely different. He's just not as strong in that setting. One thing I will say is Punk is probably better than any wrestler in the game right now at simply advancing the story. That's a really underrated aspect of his repetoire.
- You can always tell the WWE fans who don't watch SmackDown when they react so strongly to something like the replay of Brock Lesnar's promo like it's totally fresh. That's last week's news, y'all. And SmackDownis a good show, you should check it out more.
- Did they just give Big E. Langston an insert promo all by his lonesome? And holy shit, was it actually pretty good? Hey, how about that. Give the guy a chance to shine and let the light wash over you.
- If you're mad at WWE for the fact that the company website acknowledged Natalya's real life wedding to Tyson Kidd while also keeping her with Great Khali on-screen, I think you might be confused about what you're watching. You should also be more concerned with WWE booking AJ Lee to tap to Natalya and Langston to get cut down by Khali.
- Don't worry, though, after that awful botched finish, don't expect to see them on television much more anyway. At least Big E. sold the hell out of Khali's head chop.
- Oh my god, Vince McMahon's suit. Best character on television. He's still trolling, too, what with the big act that he wants an impartial referee for the John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan match at SummerSlam before trying to name Maddox the ref after he blatantly screwed Bryan earlier in the night. Triple H as a foil to Vince also works really well, actually, because he's just the right type of asshole with a smart mouth you can get behind going against everything Vince does.
- Big, big props to Maddox, a true hero, for his sell job on the Pedigree. Hell, he deserves props for his sell job on the kick wham set up. Dude dropped to a knee from a simple kick to the gut. I bet Triple H was singing his praises as soon as they got to the back.
- As many have pointed out already, the last time Triple H was a referee was for CM Punk vs. John Cena atSummerSlam in 2011 and that resulted in a blown call on the pinfall, the return of a washed up Kevin Nash, and the WWE champion losing his title that night on a Money in the Bank cash-in. That was actually the beginning of the end of "The Summer of Punk," and the hottest act in years cooled off considerably not long after. Oh shit, I think I just talked myself into absolutely hating the decision to insert Triple H into the Bryan vs.Cena match as special referee.
- Darren Young can't even distract someone properly. And so much for Titus O'Neil getting some sort of push this year, huh? Kane vs. O'Neil felt so useless.
- Almost nothing has happened in this Bray Wyatt-Kane feud and yet I'm all in for the match at SummerSlam. I'm eating this shit up, happily. Little touches like the Wyatt Family trying to attack the way they normally do and Kane disappearing behind them to their shock and surprise, only for Bray to act like he's absolutely in love with all the mind games and he welcomes the insanity that comes with them? Like I said, I'm eating this shit up.
- Holy shit, I couldn't care less about the Divas. I realize, though, that there is an audience for what they bring to the table, the reality show isn't awful, and they need some TV time. So I won't say it was bad, just that I don't prefer to watch it myself. Wouldn't hold it against you if you did.
- Alberto Del Rio vs. Kofi Kingston was a mess. Their timing was awful, they never got into any sort of rhythm, and Del Rio looked like he didn't want to sell any of Kingston's admittedly ridiculous offense. At least it wasn't Del Rio vs. Christian for the eight time on free TV before we're supposed to pay for it.
- Liked the Christian hype video promo, did't like the Christian interview, liked his interaction with Del Rio even less. I just can't get into this program.
- The Usos vs. the Real Americans is an actual tag team feud, isn't it? So that's cool. Slick finish to their match last night.
- I liked Miz absolutely going in on Cena by saying it's obvious he's full of shit and the match at SummerSlamisn't about respect and competition and the WWE championship and all that nonsense. It's more like Cenabelieves Bryan is an easy win, and that's that, open your eyes. Even better was Bryan responding by tellingMiz to shut his face before he got punched in it then essentially agreeing with everything he said while putting Cena in his place. That shit eating grin on Cena's face for the promo pissed me off beyond measure. So, good job, John, you sold me on this match. I badly hope Bryan kicks that stupid look off his face, takes the title, and makes me a gigantic mark again on Sunday.
- Man, that Cena promo. "Serious John" is always the best John Cena but dear god, I'm so tired of the same old talking points. "I do it for the kids, I'm loyal, I'm just being me, I'm the champ, I'm here, kids with cancer love me, please love me too." I think I dislike him because I'm not supposed to dislike him and I know I shouldn't dislike him but I can't help but dislike him so it makes me dislike him even more. This man used a Make-A-Wish cancer stricken child who might die to get himself over in the face of Bryan saying he's not a wrestler. That was his counterpoint. Fuck.
- The storytelling here was perfect, though. Bryan bringing up the gimmick where they slap a wrestler in Japan to get him ready for a match and using it as a storytelling tool for Bryan to tell Cena he doesn't deserve that because he's not a wrestler was fucking incredible. Cena couldn't help but react, slapping Bryan and begging for one in return but our hero didn't take the bait. Oh no, he didn't. Because Cena still doesn't deserve it and now Bryan is primed to give his absolute best in the biggest match of his life. This was so on the money it hurts. I can't fucking wait for Sunday night.
- Let's just hope Triple H doesn't ruin this like he nearly ruined Cena vs. Punk in 2011. He's not doing himself any favors inserting himself into the match, that's for sure. Also, Orton isn't cashing in. I'd put money on WWEwaiting until Raw the next night and doing it then, especially if the plan is for Bryan to win.
- There is no quicker way to get me to change the channel than to have two male wrestlers compete in a dance off, even if it's part of one of the wrestler's gimmick.
- Random arena worker Ryback runs through backstage > random guy in catering Ryback puts through a table. Less is more, folks.
- Battle royals are so much fun. Everyone seems to hold back on their offense because no one thinks they're the focus of the action. And, usually, they're not. There's just too much going on at any one given time, especially when you start with 20 guys in the ring. It's not until it gets down to a reasonable number that it starts to feel less like a modified clusterfuck and more like an actual match.
- I'm pretty sure it's built into Kofi Kingston's contract that he has to survive elimination in some sort of battle royal in spectacular fashion at least once or twice a year. I support this clause.
- Mark Henry's elimination of the Real Americans. Dear god.
- Rob Van Dam was the right call to win the battle royal, by the way. RVD vs. Ambrose should be a great way to open SummerSlam on the pre-show.
- Big Show is looking beefy. Pretty underwhelmed by his return, though. The guy has been gone for weeks, struggled to get clearance, finally got written into a show, and this is the best they could come up with? Less isn't always more, folks.
- Uhhh .... that was the go home main event segment? As good as Paul Heyman, CM Punk, and Brock Lesnarhave been during this program and this is how they close it out leading to the match? Heyman acting like a genius for coming up with a master plan my six-year-old nephew could have come up with? I get the "Sophie's choice" angle and all that, but come on. And, oh, of course, Punk attacks from behind with an ingenious plan of his own! You see, it was HE who really set the trap! Yes! That's it! He's not a smart coward or a stupid hero! He's a smart hero! He's the best in the world!
- Heyman may have saved it with his over the top fear of Punk, though. I'll give him that much. I'll also make special consideration for the fact that Punk is so obviously banged up, though he's perpetualy injured.
The show was good, but could have been better. The Cena-Bryan segment was a home run, while the Heyman-Lesnar-Punk segment was underwhelming.
That's it from me, Cagesiders. Now it's your turn to sound off with all your thoughts in the comments section below. How did you feel about the show?